Same-Day Surgery Manager

How you can make this a banner year

By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
CEO
Earnhart & Associates
Austin, TX

Last year was a very interesting year in politics and scandals, but not a good year for business. We sure put a lot of faith in 2010.

I asked several of you, in person and via e-mail, about your goals for 2010. Take a look:

• Spend more time on identifying new surgical procedures. For example:

— spine cases: minimally invasive and anterior approach cervical and lumbar cases;

— lap-band surgery;

— more eye surgery cases.

Hire a marketing individual to solicit new surgeons into your facility.

This position used to be the norm in the early surgery center days, but then it dropped off as everyone got lazy and the times were good. Well, the competition is there and getting stronger, and it's time to up the ante and get new blood in 2010. A good marketing person can pay for their services with one case a month. Get on it!

Expand staff roles in your facility.

Find ways to get members of your staff more involved in their jobs. More and more people I talk with refer to what they do as their "job." What kind of a deal is that? Perk it up, make it interesting for them. No one in health care should have a "job," they should have a career! Kick butt!

Put your computer to use.

Others have said they were going to learn their computer system beyond just posting cases. It truly is amazing the types of canned reports you can get from these information systems. Explore it.

Put up your web site. These can be done now for free, so hop on it. Let your staff get creative. (See "expand staff roles," above.) Many centers are using them for videos of surgery, registration, maps to your center, etc.

Back up your hard drive at home. (Fifteen people listed it.) Ensure the backup is fully protected and compliant with federal privacy regulations.

Miscellaneous.

Some of the comments I heard for 2010 are: put on a fresh coat of paint, replace the plastic plants in the waiting room, get rid of any magazines before 2002, post monthly goals in the lounge, buy lunches for the surgeons, request to sit in on a surgical executive committee meeting to see what they complain about, don't make patients pay for parking when they have surgery, and put a picture of staff members up on the wall and show them off.

Many of you have promised the mirror that you were going to update physician preference cards. That is a task that can be shared by many. (See "expand staff roles," above.)

My suggestion for 2010: If you do nothing else, do this. Every day, designate one person, just one, to go around the waiting room and look each person in the eye and ask, "Can I help you with anything?" "Do you have any questions?" "Are you comfortable?" It has to be genuine, or it doesn't work. When that is finished, have the person go back to the recovery area and do the same thing with the patients. I know other staff members do this anyway, but it cannot be overdone. All patients who get moved onto the operating table should have someone pat their hand, tell them it will be "OK," and give them a wink. They might not remember it, but you will. Your return on this investment will be invaluable.

2010 — our year! [Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Contact Earnhart at 13492 Research Blvd., Suite 120-258, Austin, TX 78750-2254. E-mail: searnhart@earnhart.com. Web: www.earnhart.com.Tweet address: Earnhart _EAI.]